Examining the experiences of pediatric mental health care providers during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic

Abstract Background The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally impacted the way that mental health services were provided. In order to prevent the spread of infection, many new public health precautions, including mandated use of masks, quarantine and isolation, and closures of many in-person activities, were implemented. Public health mandates made it necessary for mental health services to immediately shift their mode of delivery, creating increased confusion and stress for mental health providers. The objective of this study is to understand the impact of pandemics on the clinical and personal lives of mental health providers working with children during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, March -June 2020. Methods Mental health providers (n = 98) were recruited using purposive sampling from a public health service in Canada. Using qualitative methods, semi-structured focus groups were conducted to understand the experiences of mental health service providers during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Results Data from the focus groups were analysed and three main themes emerged: (1) shift to virtual delivery and working from home; (2) concerns about working in person; (3) exhaustion and stress from working through the pandemic. Discussion This study gave voice to mental health providers as they provided continuity of care throughout the uncertain early months of the pandemic. The results provide insight into the impact times of crisis have on mental health providers, as well as provide practical considerations for the future in terms of supervision and feedback mechanisms to validate experiences.
BMC Psychology. 2023 May 04;11(1):147